Tuesday, November 21, 2006

One Kiss Goodnight

It's that time again, where I actually go on hiatus with malice aforethought, as opposed to the rest of the year where I just dawdle off into the ether until someone reminds me that I have a blog.

I didn't useta poke at others' knitting, I really didn't. I actually subscribed to Vogue until they forgot why they were the 1,000 pound gorilla. I subscribed to Knitters' until they committed several cardinal sins--the first one being "not publishing anything that could reasonably be worn."

I subscribe to InKnitters for the articles--great techniques that actually make for interesting knitting and soemtimes (with a little tweaking) produce a flattering, wearable garment. Or, more likely, techniques that can be filched and re-worked into a more classic line.

And I subscribe to Interweave Knits for much the same reason, with the added bonus that sometimes I'll even want to make something up as written. But I am forcibly reminded that it's a mixed bag.

I mean, look at this. It's on the cover for good reason. A nice color, not too trendy, not too harsh, nicely fitted lines instead of the Garment That Ate New York, and yet I can see this being made in the largest size and still looking good on the wearer. It's what a sweater should be.

And this. I may knit me one of these and put sleeves in. Sleeves with just a skitch of bell shaping--or maybe dead straight. Not ribbed to fit the wrist, straight off the part of the forearm just where it starts to narrow.

And finally this. I have some yarn from Hunters of Brora that needs a life. You've hears of Harris tweed? Hunters of Brora is the mill that spins for Harris. Raspberry, black, or bottle green? Decisions, decisions.

But there are some really lousy design choices being made here. I'm going to skip the ones where it looks like the designer thought, "Hey! I could knit that!" without going to the next step, which is "Should I knit that?" Intarsia willy warmers on size 0000 needles are still just willy warmers--except with a lot more work.

No, I want to focus on the ones where I wonder just what they were thinking before the item went tragically wrong.

Like this one.

This is just a cloud of "feh" from beginning to end. It's a girly silhouette, with the neckline almost around his shoulders, and the round yoke cutting off the breadth of his body. The sweater is too long, so it's a half-assed tunic. And it's a big box. On a skinny little waif, it'd look cute--her pencil collarbones all sticking out, the excess fabric collapsing against her shrunken belly and flapping around her non-hips. You could even try to call it a boyfriend sweater on a chick, and you might get away with it. On a guy? No, not so much. Not unless his boyfriend is the ultra jealous type who wants to be certain no one but NO ONE is gonna look at Steve more than once.

I just want to grab it and yank the neckline up around his neck and ravel off the last four inches and put in some shaping to narrow the body around his hips. Oh, and remove his faux nose ring and teach him the pleasures of tea. He's trying waaaaay to hard to be trendy in his metrosexual sweater--and he's only made it to 2002. Sad. Really sad.

On the other hand, obviously the sample was sized for petites and they only had a tall model:

You can have a sweater with bracelet length sleeves or a sweater that hits at the high hipbone. Anything else looks like it shrunk in the dryer (eeeeeeek!!)or it belongs to your younger sister. Who's like, eleven, with really good taste.

Yes, I KNOW it's silly to knit inches of sleeve that you'll only push up out of the way. I habitually do the same thing. Could we at least compromise a little, and knit the forearm so it blouses out a bit above a rib or close-knit hem that holds the sleeve up so it looks like your sleeves are long enough? Like you just pushed them up for a minute, and any second now you're going to roll them back down because of course they hit right between your wristbone and ultimate thumb joint? Thank you.

And finally, this sweater, speaking of things that shrunk in the wash:

Well, we finally have a sweater to go with That Skirt. Now you have a whole outfit you can't go anywhere in. What the hell they didn't have a model thin enough? Look at the strain on the buttons! Waitaminnit--this comes in two sizes, a 30" chest and a 40" chest. So the model is probably 34" around, and looks shoehorned into the garment. The schematic shows a straight, boxy silhouette--it's being pulled out of shape to fit the body underneath, rather than oh, I dunno--building in shaping with short rows? Taking advantage of the fact that you're creating the cloth and the garment all at once so you can take a nip here and tuck there rather than taking the lazy man's way out and just writing in inches worth of negative ease?

Fie on you. Fie fie fie.

And that will do us till the new year. Perhaps in 2007 I will resolve to go ahead and poke at others' knitting to my cold black leathery heart's content. If nothing else, it looks like I'd get at least 4 good posts out of it. Maybe six--I'll have to review their publishing schedule.

See you once we've swept up the confetti and worked off the excesses of the holidays.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Penultimate Post

Today tastes like chocolate, dried mangoes, and the paste that comes in the jar with the stick--the sweetish kind that you'd get in kindergarten. It's been a day of ups and downs.

First the downs--the waterbed sprung a leak ON THE BOTTOM OF THE MATTRESS. Earlier this week, my clean dried laundry that our cleaning lady (The Crazed Monkey of Cleaning to the cats) had laid out on my bed was . . . dampish. I was a little puzzled, but figured my socks had been in a heavy load and hadn't dried all the way.

I changed my mind when I climbed into bed that night and rolled into a wet spot. Up we sprung, dried off what we could and laid down towels so I could sleep--except for the dripping. Up we sprung again, to see just how bad it was.

Not too bad, except we couldn't find the hole on the top, so therefore . . . Hence, this morning was spent in renting a pump (n.b.--make RESERVATIONS next time), draining the mattress, hauling the mattress cover and liner out to dry, filling the mattress upside down to see where the leaks were and patch them, then draining the mattress, moving it back into the bed, then filling the mattress and making the bed. Shooooo! I have set the heater on 'Nuclear Blast' and piled every blanket in tho house atop it so maybe I'll only need to wear ONE set of thermals and a sweatsuit to bed tonight. Or sleep in the guest bedroom.

Meanwhile, even though I am facing the usual rush of Christmas shopping and creating, I, uh, signed up for a charm swap. Hoo. I have no willpower. I need to join a Creatives Anonymous group--"Hi, I'm Spike." "Hi, Spike." "I have no control over my brain . . . is that a handknit sweater you're wearing, Group Leader?" "Stick to the subject, Spike." "Right. So, in fifty-five words . . . oh, wait, I can't do that here, can I? Lessee-- 'I am Spike. I am/ A pawn of the creative/ And I need some help.' Better?" "Spike, that's a haiku. Go sit in the corner with your sponser." "Can I knit??" "SPIKE!!!!"

Yeah. Like that. So anyway, I like charm bracelets and treasure necklaces, but the thought of making twenty-thirty different charms makes me woozy. I could--I like making beaded stitch markers, and that's essentially all these are--but the thougt of setting out like that is like thinking of hopping up from the couch and running a marathon.

However, in a swap, where they can all be the same, or all different, or all very similar but not identical--I like this. I can play with this and that and try it three ways until I like it--then make one for me to keep and swap the rest! And get back a bunch of different goodies very clearly made by different hands, and then lay hands on chain and clasps and make me bracelets to dance about my wristies. It looks like this may become an ongoing swappy, which would please me no end. Or, there's a Yahoo group dedicated to handmade charm swapping, and I may join in there after getting my tooties wet here. It's all good.

We have not yet acquired the 13 book in Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events. This is a bad thing. Hint hint hint. Part of walking lightly for me is to purchased used when I can--we go through so much stuff as a nation, swapping out when we're told to--not when we've got the good of it, not when it's worn out, but simply when the marketers tell the sheep that it's time for skinny jeans--no,no, I meant wide-leg pants, no I meant high-waisted boot cut, no I meant skirts. This is why eBay is huge. I buy classic jewelry at pawn shops--diamonds have no provenance--or I buy the gems and have a jeweler make it for me. If I'm going to have new, I don't want to have what all the other sheep have.

But that's another rant.

I finished the Last Lunchbox, though--

Or, at least, the last one of 2006. My knitting focus now goes to socks and Cubs for Kids sweaters. Tiny little potato chippy things that can be dragged around to the holiday parties and worked without concentration.

It's funny--when I look at the projects, I see the projects and the things thet happened around them. When I look at the blanket above, I see Deadwood, Desperate Housewives, Kingdom Hospital, and Babylon 5. I see weeks on the couch terrified that I wouldn't be able to find the job I wanted, that I was going to have to take a position doing SOMETHING at a law office--or maybe a job like I had when I was in college--they always need telemarketers .

But I also see these--

And that's a good thing.

I fell into a chance at free yarn. The only caveats are that it had to be used for Project Linus, and that it was fine gauge. How fine? Well, laceweight--think about four times as thick as sewing thread. On cones. Big honking cones. I'm about halfway through this one--

I wish I'd taken a "before" picture of this--it was unreal. The Last Lunchbox was knitted with multiple strands of yarn to make the total sum about worsted weight, and as you see, it ate up about four cones' worth of yarn that is now out of the closet and living its life. Woooo-hooooo!

And this concludes the Penultimate Post, as M. Snicket would declare. The next one will come next week, and then it's time for the Hallowthankmas vacation. Since this is the second time, it must be the way we've always done it. Looking forward to next year, when it will be tradition!!

And no one would dare mess with the Hallowthankmas tradition, would they? The Great Pumpkin would surely leave turkey drumstick bones and oyster stuffing in their sock drawer . . .

Monday, November 13, 2006

Tied Up In Knots

This rant has been a while in coming, so if it bursts out of your screen and crawls down your throat screetching, please try to be understanding. Fend it off with a mug of cocoa and a warm cinnamon roll. Thanks.

I practice yoga. Well, I practice practicing yoga, I'm not a deadly serious practitioner of the eightfold path. I do some hatha, but I don't take classes wiht the Big Names of Yoga, nor do I make pilgramages to India to study at backwater shalas because anything else is "inauthentic."

And because I can learn from the written word, and know enough to keep my ego off the mat, I subscribe to a couple of magazines. Or rather, used to subscribe, because frankly, I'm never going to be limber enough to be happy with people who can talk out of both sides of their mouth at once.

You see, there's a tremendous emphasis in the text of the articles (and the essays, and the related conversations) about our duty as the Enlightened to walk softly on the face of the earth--don't eat meat, for in order to produce one pound of steak it takes ten pounds of grain, which could feed ten people for ten days, instead of one fat hog (that's you, o USDA taxpayer, do you feel GUILTY YET??) for one meal. Don't wear leather, that's cruel. Don't wear "unnatural" textiles, for they are poisonous and wasteful. And so on, so on, so forth. 1

And that's fine, as far as it goes. I can turn that off and get the good out of the pieces that I come here for. I am one of the Untouchables--I eat meat, I wear leather, and no, I don't feel bad about my choices. I own them, and I own whatever results comes from those choices. I own the possibility that I may choose (or be required to choose) differently in the future.

But what gets my goat (and I thought I'd finally rid myself of the Noxious Flock) is the sheer number of advertisements for stuff. Actually, for STUFF. (Where's the HTML code to make that burst out of the screen, laughing maniacally, spouting fireworks like a Catherine Wheel?)

STUFF like $50 tank tops. STUFF like $180 yoga pants. STUFF like mats, mat bags, and music, all endorsed by the Big Names of Yoga. Will buying this CD make achieving full Padma Shirhasana 3 easier? By golly, looking at this ad it will--but only if I also purchase the tank top, pants, and mat.

And here's the part that finally made my carefully suspended disbelief fall right out of Mool Bandha and into my lap. The Winter issue took up the flag for an anti-mindless consumption holiday season. (Editorial: Deep cleansing releasing breath; we KNOW you're going to celebrate Christmas/Hannukkah, regardless of what we say, so you might as well keep in mind that this is a season of giving, not of receiving, AND CERTAINLY NOT OF BUYING STUFF STUFF AND MORE STUFF for the sake of giving and receiving. Namaste, you unenlightened slugs.) And whaddaya know, instead of the ad on every third page, it was a half ad every OTHER PAGE, with a big section on how this one company was giving away ten percent of its profits on every sale to this one charity!! Woo-hoo!!! You can buy all your goodies through them and know that you are doing good in this world, doncha feel all warm and fuzzy NOW! Look, look!!! One of the REALLY BIG NAMES is a spokesmodel for this company!! Why, just reading this ad should kick your kharma up a notch or two!

And, okay, they had one thing that struck my fancy. A niceish necklace, wrapped around and around the spokesmodel's wrist, just as I enjoy doing with antique paste necklaces. No prices listed in the ad, so I went to the website.

Holy craparoonie. $350 for wood, turquoise, and coral?? For WOOD, with ACCENTS of turquoise and coral????

I do a lot of DIY, and I'm a careful shopper. I am the first to admit I know what materials cost, but not what THINGS cost. If I can get it secondhand (like classic jewelry--diamonds have no provenance) (or silk shirts--once to the drycleaner, and they're just as clean as they'll ever be again) then I do it. I'm not consuming any new resources by doing so--these have already been made. If it's leather or fur in good condition (you'd be amazed at what a pawn shop can have) then I'm not killing another being just to wear it on my back three-five times a year. I know all the secondhand places that specialize in designer jeans, and as long as somewhat worn is chic, I'm good. (When they HAVE to be hard new blue, well, I guess I'll just be out of touch for a while.)

But Spike, the company donates ten percent of their profits to charity? Why would you deprive the charity of their cut? How can you be so unfeeling?

Well, let's do a little math. The jeweler donates ten percent of their profits. Since their asking price includes their profits, the raw materials, the labor, the shipping (of material to the factory, of the finished items to the warehouse), storage space, advertising costs--spokemodel time (you don't think that the Big Name donated her time to go pose for the ads, do you?), photographer's time,printing and binding and mailing cataloges, and probably designers' fees and coffee, you know that the final donation will be substantially less than ten percent of their asking price. But let's go with that for argument's sake. $35 to charity.

The fact that I can make the same sort of lariat in pearls with accents of coral and turquoise plus give $35 to charity for less than a third of what they're asking for really honks me off. How stupid do they presume their customer to be??

If you want the article, buy the article. If you want to donate to charity, donate. But don't let yourself get fooled into thinking that ten percent of profits to whatever charitable organization represents serious goodwill on the part of the manufacturer. Suppliers will offer ten percent off their ASKING PRICE just to entice you to purchase.

Needless to say, I'm practicing letting go this season. One of the things to go will be my subscription to yoga magazines. If I feel the need to find new poses/receipies/information--I'll go to the used bookstore where I can pick them up for a buck apiece, already printed, already used once and being tossed aside.

Walking a little lighter now. Om shanti, ya'll.

1. I'm not going to get into the fuel it takes for the machinery to grow the grain, or the fuel and other chemicals needed for the fertilizer, or for the amazing costs of watering a cotton field or any of that. Someone else may take up the agricultural screed and relate the doleful facts of just how much it costs to farm in a green and sustainabler way--and how much MORE the consumer has to put out to acquire. That's not the point of this particular rant; that's why all my facts are not in order, cross-indexed and footnoted.

Friday, November 10, 2006

You Know It's Bad When . . .

. . . you walk by your boss's office and all his clothes are stacked on a chair--and your boss is nowhere to be seen.

How did you miss the fact that he ran naked out of the office and down the street?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Oh, They Often Call Me Speedo, But My Real Name Is . . .

. . . Spike. (Surely you saw that one coming?)

But you probably didn't see this:

At the Blanket Bee for Project Linus, the coordinator had come up with a nifty way for the crocheters and knitters to maximize their output. You see, quilting is a pretty quick fiber art--you start with whole cloth, you cut it up into pieces, sew the pieces together to make a new pattern, then tie the quilt or machine quilt it just enough to hold up to some wear, and you're done! Takes an afternoon to a couple of days, depending on how crazy you get with the scissors and electric needle.

But when you crochet, or even knit, you start with fiber and create the cloth as you shape the cloth. And knitting is slower than crochet because the stitches are so much smaller. So a blanket takes at least a week, and more like a month of steady work.

So the quilters are donating tons of blankies, and the knit and crochet folks are still plodding along . . .

But wait! What if we took fleece, used a special rotary cutter blade to make hemstitching holes in the fleece, and then had the String Pushers knit or crochet an edging onto the blanket? And voila! a new way to participate.

I think this looks pretty good for one day of work. I'm not changing my modus operandi any time soon, because I know where I fall on the line of "quantity v. quality"--to me this looks like the equivalent of a craft fair altered T-shirt compared to a tailored blouse--but for those who ached to "do more" somehow, this is a reasonable compromise.

Friday, October 27, 2006


How could I let the month of October pass without a comment that it's my second blogiversary! I've actually stuck with this thing (more or less) for two years! [checks posting schedule] Nope--missed March 06 and December 05. That's what happens when you refuse to do quiz results just for the sake of another post.

And that brings me 'round to the subject of this post. I've been slooooowly realizing that you can do a thing, or you can do a thing online, but you can't do both. Not really.

And now for the context around that statement. I knit, I art (note the small "a" in that), I write. I belong to many many many Yahoo groups about knitting and mail art and journaling and stuff.

And I see that a lot of the people blogs I had links to have faded away. The folks who got me going on Blogger have folded up shop, other people whose prose I admired have stopped posting, and a few folks that I recently collected onto my roll have posted saying that they had realized it was ride their hobbyhorse, or blog about every moment mounted.

And I have a few folks whom I read every time I get a minute, though I don't blogroll them, people whose blogs have formed the basis for books and such, and I no longer feel connected with them the way I did three years ago when I started reading blogs.

And on the lists, list moms have commented that the LIST is eating up the time that they used to use to make the subject of the list, and while it's nice that the list was much beloved and enjoyed, it's time to close up shop and get back to their lives.

And I find that more and more, I'm starting to feel that I'm writing about what I do more than I'm actually doing. I feel that I post here when I have good news to share (although as mentioned before, if I don't share all the bad news because I don't want the outpouring of sympathy [or worse yet, the casual, "Sucks to be you! Hope things get better; loveyabye."]then I certainly can't expect to share good news and have others understand why it's good news.) but I don't share my whole life--or even a whole part of any of my life. (Shocking, isn't it? I don't even share all my knitting with my Tonstant Weaders.)

And it takes time to produce this stuff. It takes time to come up with the subject, land fingies on the keys, set up photos, crop and fix the photos, and then put it all together for consumption.

So I really dig where folks are coming from when they say, "I'm getting off this merry-go-round; I'm going to go and explore my ideas, meet my muse at the board and DO a bunch of these things that I've been thinking about and exposed to, so I'll have the object in my hand rather than another blogpost that will be read and discarded like any other article from the newspaper."

Will there be a year three? Or will we close the Lunchbox and eat out instead?

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Another Li'l Lunchbox

Sorry I haven't been around lately. I've blogged before about how transparency flies out the window when people you know in real life read your blog, so re-read thiose rants for a pithy explanation. What's been going on is stuff I wouldn't share with First Consort Gareth--except, well, he lives here, so he's privy to quite a lot that happens that I don't necessarily want to talk about.

And when it's stuff you don't want to share, you either pull up stuff on BlogThings just so you can get a post in edgewise, or you sit in the corner with your thumb in your mouth.

Or, in yours truly's case, you knit. Knit on, with confidence and courage, etc., etc.

Do enough of that and you get another li'l lunchbox off the needles and out into the world.

This one is based on a scrap quilt layout called Roman Coins. I'm happy with it; it's a nice little stash buster. I think I'll make it bigger next time, like 40" by 60", this is more like 40" by 40".

It's almost time to close this down for Hallowthankmas. (I know, I know, you couldn't tell that this WASN'T closed down from the frequency of the posts. Rant on that coming up soon.)

Sunday, October 01, 2006

While Strolling on the Banks

Today tastes like the chocolate Coca-Cola cake my mother would make for birthdays if you begged specially. The old formula Coke, not the "classic formula" they came out with after the fiasco of new Coke. It's not the same, I've tried the recipie on my own, in nostalgic moments when I can conveniently forget that the recipe calls for three sticks of butter, and a cup of sugar on top of the half-sack of minature marshmallows, AND the Coke, AND the box of confectioner's sugar. Oh, did I forget the two cups of pecans?

Yup, it's a recipe out of Hell's Kitchen--nothing but sugar and fat. No redeeming virtues at all. But ever so yummy--carmelized sugar and chocolate in one gooey masterpiece, ready to go right out of the oven.

Did I mention it freezes well and microwaves beautifully? That would be why I'm out in the morning, walking for an hour before I go to the gym for my workout.

It may be spring when the swallows come back to Capistrano, but it's fall when the waterfowl come back to Phoenix. One hears that irrigation canals criss-cross the city, which made it possible to farm a water-hungry crop like citrus, and still nourish lawns and golf courses so people who move here from greener pastures to get away from winters and allergies can recreate what they left behind--moaning about the unbearable humidity and thier everlasting allergies.

But it's one thing to see photos, and another to live in a city that was laid out by Bradbury's golden-eyed Martians. Raised canals cut gouges through farmland turned suburbia, with parks and fields lying low beside them. In summer, when the monsoons have been niggardly with their moisture, the fields are irrigated--flooded--with water drawn from the canals, grass swaying under three inches of water soaking into the soil.

And having water available brings its own little ecosystem. In the winter, its common to see ducks going about their business on the canals, finding places under bridges where the current's surface flow eddies, dabbling after weeds that found cracks in the cement liner to grow, flapping out onto the banks to go to work on some grass humans planted in a backyard poking under the fence, or in a park.

So the school by my house had irrigated the soccer field over the weekend, and a little pond lay in the lowest spots. The ducks, bless their little webfooted hearts, had noticed water and grass--which meant that there must be worms and other good things. They were paddling about on the pond, oblivious to the skeletal goalposts and backstop sprouting from the surface like Excalibur.

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Oh, Dear

I don't normally snark about the fugly designs foisted upon unwitting consumers/craftspeople; there are many better blogs about that. But sometimes you run across something that tastes like unsweetened coffee yoghurt--

Yup. A knit skirt, courtesy of the fall Knitty e-zine.

Now, I've no real beef with knit skirts, if they're actually functional. However, they seldom are. And this one is worse than usual.

We'll dispense of the usual caveats that the model in the picture is a size 00, and disappear when she turns sideways, so the skirt makes her look appealing and voluptuous. Never mind what it does for anyone over a size 4. Or, god forbind, someone with a belly to match her curvy bottom. This is standard operating procedure when dealing with fitted garments, anyway.

The big ooops with a knit skirt is that knitting stretches. (Please picture that text on fire, flashing and rotating like Linda Blair's head in The Exorcist. KNITTING STRETCHES. Thank you.)

Because knitting stretches, big baggy sweaters grow bigger and baggier, sleeves slowly take on the look of elbows, and tights loosen. The fiber makes a difference in just how fast the droop happens, but all knits will eventually succumb to gravity. Even Lycra tights with elastic threaded through the knitting bag in the seat and knees eventually.

And an inelastic fiber--with no stretch and snap back to it--will bag the second you bend. This skirt is knit in bamboo yarn--lovely heavy cool linen-like bamboo yarn. Bamboo yarn that is nigh-onto completely inelastic. I knitted a lace stole in the stuff, and didn't need to block it open at all.

So the second the model sits down in that skirt, she'll have a second ass at about mid-thigh when she stands up. Oh, and she'll crush her pretty ribbon corsetery, too. So she can't get in a car to go out clubbing to show off the skirt she hand-knit (and her sexy body) because she'll look bedraggled and dumpy as soon as she gets up off the seat. And once there, she'll have to keep on dancing because sitting in this skirt will be the kiss of death.

All those long hours knitting stockinette stitch round and round and round for a garment you can only put on to parade around the living room in.

The name of the garment? Glad you asked--"Intolerable Cruelty." At last--truth in advertising.

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Sometimes . . .

Sometimes when you do work for work's sake, you also make art for art's sake. I love it when that happens.

While taking photos of the new building for the business blog, I happened to catch this one better than I could have planned. The only thing I had to do was crop it--I love getting a shot like that!

Sunday, August 27, 2006

And Now Another Word

Today DOES INDEED taste like artichokes and used motor oil. For years I've been saying "Don't say it or I will see it," and now it appears the same goes for flavors of the day.

It's the ass end of summer, when you're finally warm enough (plenty warm, thankew, looking forward to winter even though it shivvers us something fierce, it does)and it's not only hot but muggy and thick. You're swimming in bisque without seasoning, gluey and dull.

So the weather has a lot to do with the ennui. (What is it like to be on whee? Not as much fun as you'd think; it's a draggy low rather than a high. Put down the whee pipe and get moving already!)

Working on the last couple of projects of the year. I had some dull neutral yarn that needed to become the centers of some blankets--
--and that became a project in and of itself.

The motif was too sugary-girly in white . . .
. . . so I decided to do counterpane centers instead.

Then I remembered why I hate counterpane centers--they're quite fiddly as written, especially this one, which has you increase via a yo at the beginning of each row. Additionally, there's a bunch of sewing, and when you stripe the plain knitting, you have a bajillion ends per quarter square to weave in. It's almost as much sewing as knitting, which is why this project is a tour-de-force.

I can't reduce the number of ends when I knit the striped parts, but I for sure can reduce the ends in the white and the fiddly sewing bit. I've been knitting the squares in the round, casting on for four of the quarter-squares and working a p1f&b in the increase stitches.

Start with 12 sts on DPNs, work the four leaf motifs, work the flanking leaves and move the square to a circular needle as soon as practicable. Keep it on the circ until the white part's done, then knit back and forth on the circ until the first striped part is done.

Cast off the last stripe, move one to the right, and do it again until the whole square is off the needles. Et voila! One painless counterpane square.

The monsoon's breaking once more. Off to go knit on the covered porch, in the rain. A moment of cool in a long summer of hot.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006

The News from the Salt River

The Dowager Empress herownself sent me a wonderful poem, one that’s a keeper, so I’m putting it up here for all the Tonstant Weaders to viddy--


The moon thumbs through the night’s book.
Finds a lake where nothing is printed.
Draws a straight line. That’s all
it can. That’s enough.
Thick line. Straight toward you.
-- Look.

Rolf Jacobsen
Translated from the Norwegian
By Olav Grinde

That's lovely. The only problem is I hear it read in Garrison Keillor's voice, and then a monologue about Norwegian poetry ensues . . . and how Norwegian is such a frugal language that the poor guy didn't have enough vocabulary to title the poem without using one of the words in the body of the poem . . . and how Rolf stayed up night after night after night . . . and how he asked his friends Sven and Oley for help, and they contributed the only two words in Norwegian he hadn't used yet--"Pig," said Sven, and "Turnip," suggested Oley.

And you can probably hear the rest of the monologue contained in the air conditioner's hum, so I'll spare you that.

Some days it does not pay to be one of all the children who are above average.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Thursday's Post Has Far to Go

Good lord 'n' butter. (No, that's not what today tastes like, today tastes more like . . . honey. Pure raw clover honey, so sweet it's hot in your mouth, like the sunshine that made the flowers and nectar.) Is it really August already? That means it'll soon be September, and then the two year blogiversary.

Where does it all go? It was May just a moment ago, I swear. I was jumping rope on the patio, and then all of a sudden the monsoon rolled over the Valley and it was hot and wet, and in two shakes we'll go back to the dry heat of autumn. Two breaths after that and it will be the dry coolth of winter, when you pull out a sweatshirt in the morning and layer up in a coat over the thin turtleneck and finally pull your wool trousers out and really wear them.

The year of me me me has started four months early. During the chilly air-conditioned summertime, as I sat shivering in the office (I sit under a blower, so while my hands are numb and blue, my bunkie by the window is dying from the heat, and the office next door is positively tropical. I hate the building we're in; I've worked in it for four . . . no, FIVE years and have never never never been in an office where the temperature was moderate.)

Anyway, as I sat shivering under the freakin' blower, I started thinking about a shawl I'd knit for the Dowager Empress Odie-Bird. It was chenille. Great big worsted weight chenille in midnight blue, soft as a Muppet pelt, and warm as a mug of coffee. I should know, it was August as I finished the darn thing with the whole heavy pelt across my lap. And I knew I had a whole 'nother pound of the stuff in my stash.

So I pulled out the needles again, cast on my six for the neckband, and went right to it. Garter stitch, nice mindless garter stich in a Faroese shape so the thing will hang on my neck and shoulders and I won't have to clutch it to me every time I reach for the printer. A simple knit, a few weeks of work so I won't fret about leaving it in the office--if someone kipes it, they obviously really needed it badly.

And I still have two pounds of emerald green waiting to become. Heh.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Dutiful Meme

Today tastes like peanut butter and muffin tin liners. The weather is a wet flannel blanket just out of the dryer. When you can’t think of anything to say, but know you should say something, surf the web for inspiration.

So you’ll just have to imagine the posts I was gonna write about the walk this morning along the canal (insert shades of Ray Bradbury here, both the sci-fi and the Doug Spaulding) where I talk about the hordes of black bumblebees dangling on their wings and droning among the glories pastel fields of Russian Thistle blooming mellow pallid violet among the grey-green leaves, with the fireworks of yellow stamens in the early morning light. Too bad, I’m going to do a meme theme here.

1. YOUR ROCK STAR NAME: (first pet and current street name)
Taffy Verano (obviously I do Spanish cross-over like Shakira)

2. YOUR MOVIE STAR NAME: (grandfather/grandmother on mother's side first name, favorite sweet)
Bonnie Gelato

3. YOUR "FLY GIRL/GUY" NAME: (first initial of first name, first two or three letters of your last name)
Eree (hmm, rather goth to be called a name that rhymes with “Eerie.” I like it.)

4. YOUR DETECTIVE NAME: (favorite animal, name of high school mascot)
Alpaca Matador (that’s almost like a superhero name)

5. YOUR SOAP OPERA NAME: (middle name, city where you were born)
Llewellyn Albuquerque (goes well with the rock star name, no?)

6.YOUR STAR WARS NAME: (first 3 letters of your last name, last 3 letters of mother's maiden name, first 3 letters of your pet's name)
Ree’ettvis (ok, I just had to put a glottal stop in the middle of that screech. Wow.)

7.JEDI NAME: (middle name spelled backwards, your mom's maiden name spelled backwards)
Nyllewell T’terrag (looks more like Dragonriders of Pern, doesn’t it?)

8. PORN STAR NAME: (middle name, street you lived on)
Llewellyn Jen Tilly

9.SUPERHERO NAME: ("The", your favorite color, last product advertised that you remember on TV (or favorite)
The Chartreuse Attorney

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

All Bound Up

I’ve grumbled about this before, but here we go again—the life examined sometimes is difficult to live.

Right now, I blog here about knitting and whatever comes to mind, I blog there about the new company that I’m involved in building. I journal my shadows under cover of darkness to keep them from creeping into the daylight hours and tangling about my feet. I share a mail project with a virtual friend (as opposed to an imaginary friend—imaginary friends don’t send you stickers or write replies to you) in which we share a journal, adding art and whatever to the pages as we go.

It feels live I live with keyboard and camera in hand, a bandolier of Sharpies slung across my chest, writing life rather than living it. There’s a lot to pick and choose from; I’m drowning in material and writing it all in my head because, of course, the perfect spot to put all this in is always in another place.

I’d like to talk about my post-project depression a little—I just finished watching the last season of Six Feet Under. The benefit of waiting for TV shows to come out on DVD is that you can fill the six disc carousel and watch until your eyes fall out of your head, knitting madly all the while. No commercials! A pause button for snack and bathroom breaks, and you can see “that” episode again and again with only a little hunting (as opposed to on videotape. I used to note the numbers for the beginning of each movie/show on the spine of a videotape so I could find them reasonably quickly. Yes, Virginia, this was back in the Dark Ages.)

Of course, the drawback is that by the time you see the shows, the rest of the world has moved on. “That was soooooo 2005.” Tra la.

So I have no one to blame but me—I knew this was the last season as I plugged it in. I knew that with a show that is predicated on death and the world going on without you as you remain only a memory blah blah blah would kill off everyone eventually and close the show off so that there was no more. No “I wonder if they ever . . .” No “Maybe those two get their act together and marry . . .” Nope, no fuzzy endings, all of it fade to white in signature style.

I just hadn’t counted on finishing a project at the same time.

I’m a process person. Big time process person. That’s why I blog rather than writing novels (although Tonstant Weader will probably chime in here and claim that each and every post is at least a novella. Pooh on you, Tonstant Weader.)

I couldn’t live with the characters, know their backstory, know their frontstory, know what they like for breakfast, then live with them and tell the slice of their life in which you get to know them—then end it all. Type my three ###’s at the end like a press release and walk away from them. Blogging, well, blogging goes on and on and on and has little bitty endings (at the end of each post) but never really stops until the day you decide to go out and live life rather than writing about it.

You see, I was working on a blanket that I’ve been knitting on for a little more than a year now (off and on; off and on since February 2005. There’s a six-months photo in the archives—October 26, 2005.) I just happened to finish it the same night as we watched the last of the show. Now it’s all over except for weaving in the ends.

It doesn’t help that I just finished another blanket that I started shortly before that.
All my long-term projects are winding down and closing off, getting ready to go out and live their useful lives.

On the one hand, I’m glad to get them done. This closes out the last of the original projects from the “Stressed Monkey Project-O-Rama” (so what do you call your “git r done” list?) It’s a good thing to finish projects because that means you can start new stuff. I limit myself to only five projects on the needles at a time, because otherwise I spread myself too thin during manic bouts of startitis, and when I come down, I come down hard, and can only sit and stare at all the things surrounding me. Lovely ideas with copious notes, and no energy at all to pick it up and proceed.

But on the other, well, they’re over. Like when a childhood friend moves away—you need permission to call long distance, and in the days before the Internet, you had to come by stamps and envelopes and stationery. You both swore you’d write every single day, and maybe you did. For a week. Or two. Where are all your friends from high school, where you inscribed “4 EvR” in each other’s yearbooks on that last day of senior year?

I don’t miss the items, not a bit. I could always make another very much like it if I took a notion to have something like that for myself. It’s the process I miss. I miss watching an idea take form under the needles and solving the bugs that always crop up.

Just like I miss getting to know the characters for the first time, watching the story arc unravel and spool out to the final scene

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Ten Little Fingers and Could Rule the World . . .

. . . if it weren’t for shiny objects.

It’s been a day of high distraction, tho’ really, you could repeat that phrase for just about any day of the year thus far. The push is on to finish finish finish all the projects I have started so I can spend next year knitting just for me. Of course, finishing one project will leave me with a stockpile of centers for Linus blankets, which I will probably begin longing to start on shortly thereafter.

I’ve managed to keep the startitis down to one pair of socks because I just had to try doing a star toe from the tip up rather than from the top down. I found an umbilical start worked best in the fine sock yarn—work an eight-stitch I-cord in waste yarn, then knit one in each stitch around, knit one round, double to sixteen, knit one round, then begin the four lines of increase, alternating with plain rounds. The plan is to continue the alternating increases with plain rows until the toe fits around the ball of my foot (about 60 sts or so in sock yarn, 40 in sport weight) then knit a plain tube until the sock reaches the front of my ankle. Then work an Afterthought Heel, finish the leg, finish the heel, weave in the ends.

This could well become the Blue Box Socks pattern I’ve lusted for, the Holy Grail of self-striping sock yarn. I lurve me that stuff, but heel flaps never look good because of the interruption; and I’m always afraid of not having enough yarn for the second sock . . . or having one-third of a sock left over after skimping to get done. If this works out, I can work the socks as long as I like, and then put the leftovers together with plain wool argyle-fashion—-self-striping diamonds and plain diamonds.

Progress on the new job continues apace--see the other blog for details. Meanwhile, I'm weaving in the ends at this one so I can change horses the moment the moment's right, like a trick rider in the circus. Here we go again; I was thinking this time last year how nice it would be to just have one job to do and be settled down. Ah well.

Finished one Linus blanket, need to weave in ends. Pictures to follow.

How's Business??

Today tastes like butter and bitter chocolate, with just a hint of sugar. Dense and creamy, salty and none too sweet.

Interesting times at work, in the Chinese sense of interesting. Arthurella, Gareth, I and a cast of thousands are setting up a business with the whole vision thing--no more small business association loans where you have to beg and plead for fifty bucks, we're seeking out venture capitalists and investors this time. We're reserving our begging and pleading for figures with seven digits to the left of the decimal.

We have a building in the process of renovation for our use, we're looking at renting a bitty space right now, just to have a place to work, and we're shooting to open the doors in August.

And then I probably won't know daylight from dark for five years.

I'm okay with that; I got to write my own compensation package and my own job description, so I'll be doing many things I love (like writing and writing and writing--see the Capital Collection Bureau blog1 for details of where the biz is at. I promise not to do more than the occasional link to it here when something cool happens.

It's funny--in order to minimize the possibility of cross-posting, I set up another account for the CCB Blog. I could just see myself hammering out a post about the latest lunchbox project and throwing it up there, or starting a business-related post with "Today tastes like artichokes and used engine oil. Why do people assume that we can't follow our own moral code?" Eeeeeek!

1. Edited--We've killed the "real" Capital Collection Bureau blog due to an order from the guys in black dresses. I'm half-tempted to find out if the Capital Collections Bureau at Blogspot dot Com is the same one as trimmed our ears, or if it's yet another one.

And yes, this is a lesson that if you have a nifty cool name, then someone else thought of it first. Even though you do your due diligence . . .

Thursday, June 22, 2006

There Are Days . . .

There are days when you do what you do and you wonder why you do it. Days spent gluing bits and bobs to other bits and bobs, splashing paint about, listening to your gremlin ponder just so you can write his words down and destroy them in the name of making. . . well, stuff, because the little green bastard will be the first to inform you that you ain't no artist. (After all, an artist can draw a horse. From memory. And make it look just like a photograph. Yeah.)

There are days when you look at how much you spend a month on postage, how much time you spend on-line, essentially talking to yourself because of how much is missing from the e-mail experience, participating in wht you are aware is a grand illusion of relationship that feels very real on your end of the machine, and presumably feels truly real on the other side of the screen as well, but you'll never really know, now will you?

There are days that you spend searching out new (at least to you) techniques and methods of assemblage and texture and words to pull them all together with, hunting for that pattern you saw just last week (and can't rememeber anything about but the way the colors melded and this would be just perfect for this project now, but looking for "green" and "blue" and "yellow" and "doors" just leads you to porn sites) and darn it all, it was just here somewhere, and you remember you found the link on someone's blog that led you to someone else's blog and well, crap. Maybe something in the history cache will jog your mind . . . oh. Right, you just cleared that five minutes ago to get the latest version of that other site that you visit once a week on average.

But then there are days when your mailbox bursts with postcards from people you correspond with, and some of those cards were made by hand, and some of those cards have witty messages, and then there are the envelopes from countries you never heard about with ATC's in them from people who found you from a group somewhere and wanted to swap, and then there are envelopes packed with decos to admire, work in, and pass along on their flight path--or out into the wide world.

Yes. There are days.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Just for Today

Just for today . . .

I will eat my vegetables.
I will drink my water.
I will take every opportunity to exercise.

Just for today . . .

I will not whine.
I will not say, “But it’s not fair!”
I will not drag my feet.

Just for today . . .

I will do the right thing, even when it sucks.
I will keep my promises, especially those I made to myself.
I will put one foot in front of the other, and celebrate progress made.

Just for today.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Literate Gerunds

Today tastes like fake chocolate, “chocolate flavored” and waxy. There used to be a chocolate flavored gum that would always suck me in with glossy brown promises, but always disappointed once the stick was unwrapped. Thank goodness it’s a short day. Thank goodness we’re headed for the cabin in the mountains after lunch.

I have lots to do and no desire, which is bad. Hopefully getting up into the pines will clear out the don’t wanna cobwebs that I’m mired in.

Thinking about the permanent knitting projects and new ways to organize them. My stash achieved SABLE* status almost immediately after I began knitting, and then blew up after I discovered the internet. Ah, back in the days of the relatively strong dollar, when one could buy laceweight merino from Australia for $22 per kilo. Nope, no typo there. Buy three kilo cones, and get a discount almost high enough to cover the shipping. The shop would wait to charge my card until I verified receipt. And the best part?? I’d ask them to ship “slow boat via China” and get my goods almost three weeks later.

Do I need to go into how much merino laceweight I have stashed and waiting?? Plus, the Project Linus blanket bees with acrylic going begging (and I can’t let THAT happen, can I??) and the short-lived habit of going to the craft store and buying every color of acrylic worsted that caught my eye . . . well, you can imagine the state of the stash.

But I have a couple of projects that are too large to tote around with me so as to take advantage of the snippets of time that so much gets done in, and thus they have to wait patiently for me to get chunks to sink in, like on the weekends watching Netflix. And for the last two years I’ve confined myself to no more than five projects on the needles—one for me, one for Project Linus, one for friends/family, one with an eye to publication, and a wild card. It’s worked nicely; when I get antsy with a big project I can work a small one to completion, or choose something complex for “nexties” if I can’t stand the thought of more garter stitch.

But at the same time, I’ve been feeling like the shoemaker’s barefoot children. I wanna knit for me, ‘cause no one will appreciate the time and effort as much as I will. Sad but true, of just about anything handmade. Each person’s tastes are unique and individual, so it’s rare to find someone else who does it just like you would.

So I’m thinking about a push to finish off the projects currently on the needles, and then not replace them with anything from the Project-O-Rama, so that by New Year’s Day, all the needles are empty. (And then I will probably drop dead, having made the Faustian bargain that I would live until I completed all my projects.) (However, you will note that I did not specify FIBER projects. At the time, I wasn’t into paper. Gotta watch those clauses.)

And then, come New Year’s 2007, I wanna knit for me me me. I’m thinking shawls, shawls and socks. Little 40-day type projects, so I can do a bunch in the year to come. Lovely selfish dreams.

But first I gotta get through these last few.

*Stash Acquisition Beyond Life Expectancy

Thursday, May 25, 2006

"Censer," Said the Censor

First I should thank my fan base, especially those who have my e-mail address and my snail mail address who very gently kick me in the head and remind me that there are really people who read my blog; who will come back and come back and see the same rant, and then get up and yell at me to keep writing, even when the words come slow and hard and I can’t think about anything except what isn’t getting done while I sit here and twiddle the keys.

Thank you.

Second, common wisdom in the blogosphere says you shouldn’t let your nearest and dearest know your blog address. It changes what you write, they say, makes you less authentic. It’s like Heisenberg’s uncertainty principal—people should either know what’s up in your life because they’re living it right next to you, but not know where you blog about it; or should know your spot on the web where you keep the diary that’s read by any passing stranger, but not know who you are.

Some of my skinterface friends who blog (and no, I don’t generally read theirs) comment that it’s weird when a stranger remarks on their choice of colors, or words, or asks what the next project is going to be—just as if they knew them, they say. (And how’s THAT for a typically convoluted sentence??) But in some ways, I find it odder to get an email from someone who knows me in real life—or a comment from a RL person that harks back to what they read on my blog—because I don’t talk about what I blog about. It’s all about separation of virtual and real, yolk and white, church and state.

But, not being one to listen to common wisdom, I let everyone know my blogaddress, even the folks who know the face behind the lunchbox. And now I find myself in the queer position of being afraid that no one reads this . . . and being equally afraid that someone I know WILL read this.

So I end up with the unbearable lightness of blogging. If I post what’s really on my mind, will I end up with my nearest and dearest fretting over what I said? Angered that they got it over the net, instead of directly from me? What, don’t I trust them??? (Yes, and no. When you put your heart near someone else’s hand, you trust them implicitly, but at the same time, this doesn’t mean you want them knowing all there is to know.)

And as you know if you’ve been reading this blog, when I write, I open my mouth and my heart falls out. Here’s the downside of authenticity and letting it all hang out—it ain’t pretty. It may clash with your public persona. And so I end up self-censoring, and if I don’t have a post about fluffy bunnies and the latest knitting project, I end up not saying anything out loud.

Which is great for filling journals, but gets no space filled here. And the weeks go by, and the weeks go by, and suddenly it’s been over a month and both mailboxes start to pile up with people saying “Just what the hell happened, Spike?”

And I come up with plans to do better; plans that only require a perfect world to come to fruition.

I had forgotten how good it is to have space to think again. Thanks for the kick in the pants, Bonnie Rae. I needed that.

Friday, April 14, 2006

The Nature of Envy

Was thinking this morning (a dangerous thing to do, sans coffee) about how we admire someone who can do a thing well if it is a thing we think we can do, and how we envy those who do things that we believe to be beyond our abilities.

Case in point: I have a dear friend who had an amazing figure (and yes, liked to make sure the whole world knew it). And I envied her her twenty-two inch waist, and her six pack abs, and her long shapely legs.

And I envied her because I thought it all came naturally--like a gift from some benevolent figure beyond for being a perfect person. I never thought about what would be required to maintain that body. Well, I knew she taught aerobics classes, but still, I worked out, too. It just wasn't fair, and I envied her.

And then time and childbearing have done what they do--right now, we're either neck and neck or I may actually be a couple of inches thinner here and there. And I found out that not only did she teach aerobics, she taught two classes five days a week, and maintained a workout schedule of her own, and monitored her weight every single day. If she went up a pound, she'd diet it right off that day.

Then, as I said, she had kids, and dropped the classes, and now she's working to get back to where she was. And guess what? It's just as hard for her as it has been for me. We run the stairs together at work--down seven flights, around the block, up eight flights and back down one--three times a day. And while I could make it to the top from day one, she'd have to stop at three, then five when we first started.

Now I admire her perseverence as she eats her two lettuce leaves at lunch, as she gets up and gets me moving by putting on her walking shoes, as she hauls it up the stairs and glories in the process--"Look! My pants! I can fasten them now!!!"

And I think about how I used to envy people who wrote long flowing prose so effeortlessly. I'd sweat blood over each sentence, wringing prose out of my fingertips.

Then I started journalling. Three pages longhand, morning and evening. Now I find it hard to stop sometimes, when the words begin to roll. I'm doing a mail art project where I share a journal with a virtual friend (as opposed to a virtual stranger?) (Am I sharing secrets with a bunch of virtual stragers when I blog? Why, indeed I am!) Each of us takes turns writing for a few pages, then sends it off to the other for filling. And I notice that her entries are separated by wide expanses of nothing to say, while I'm jotting away on one page each night. I forced myself to stick to that one page, because otherwise I'd end up filling the whole book in short order.

And I find myself admiring people who write professionally, who are willing to step up and face that endless blank page every morning. To trust that there will be enough to fill this page, and the next page, and one hundred pages down the road because just as fast as you write, another page scrolls up, waiting to have little black marks put on it.

And I used to be furiously envious of those who create art. Who draw, or sculpt, who produce objects with interesting form and occasional function. That's part of why I write--language is more natural to me than visual. About ten-twelve, I decided that since I couldn't reproduce objects on paper with photographic realism, I obviously couldn't draw. So I focused my efforts on what I saw as a strength and a pleasure (and what was rewarded as an aptitude) and naturally I got better at it.

And then I discovered ATC's and decos and such, and I feel pretty good about my abilities in collage (if it floats, it needs wings or some means by which to float)and I've drawn a few bits and bobs here and there (and even had the courage to SWAP them,)and I think if I really settled down and focused my efforts on learning to draw, I could do that, too. (All the Flybabies say it in chorus, "You can do ANYTHING for fifteen minutes!!")

So--what do you envy? And is it possible, just possible, that the desire is indeed within your grasp?

But then I discovered ATC's

Tuesday, April 11, 2006

Wake Up Call

I just received a thump on the head from one of my fans, wondering what was up since I hadn't been blogging for some time--two months now.

Frankly, I'd fallen victim to the Information Age.

It's easier to read about than it is to do, and I'd been reading about journalling, reading about art, reading about and reading about and reading about. Joining Yahoo Groups devoted to this and that, joining in swaps and round robins and other group endeavors, and making copious lists of stuff to do Real Soon Now.

As soon as I had a chance.

As soon as I had time.

And the decos stacked up, and the ATC's were threatening to spill onto the floor, and the journals were getting dusty.

But there was all this e-mail, you see. And books I'd ordered, and books I'd been given, and books I'd won in various contests. And audiobooks to read, and movies to watch, and stuff and thing and stuff to consume.

And then it hit me that consumption is not production. And I needed to get with it and do what I was gonna do--or it wouldn't get done.

So I dropped about half my groups--the ones I only lurked in, the ones I wanted to be inspired by (but wasn't), the ones that ate up time and time scrolling through the chatter panning for gold.

I cleaned both studios so I could think--and more importantly, so I could run in and do in the corners of time that work so well for me. If you're only going to spend fifteen minutes a night and an hour on the weekend days, that's not a large investment at a whack--but you don't want to spend the whole allotment hunting for your embossing powder.

And the logjams are breaking up, a little. I've found that writing plans and leaving little notes for what I want to do works well. That way I can just duck into the paper studio, pull a project and my notes about what happens next, set my timer and go like thunder till the beeper beeps and it's time to go take care of something else.

Friday, February 10, 2006

Writing About Writing About Writing

Today tastes like oregano, dark baking chocolate, and coffee.

Received a birthday giftie from my folks (yes, my birthday IS in April) and it looks like we're going to Vegas for the weekend next month. So now I'm celebrating the 90 days of birthday, it appears. (Was 12 days, then 30, now apparently it takes a whole quarter to get it done. I just thought you got more candles on your cake . . . who knew?)

And while the gift is particularly nifty keen and wonderful(whips out mat, bows in general direction of Albuquerque, mumbling "thank you thank you thank you o merciful and benevolent parents, ink of my Sharpies, lines in my paper, flecks in my deckle; I can never repay you though I live a thousand years)the thing that really caught my attention was the birthday card. Or rather, my father's handwriting in the birthday card.

I've envied his cursive since I began to write. I do okay if the actual technology of the writing implement causes me to go very sssllooowwwlllyyy and with great care to form the letters. I've a nice uncil hand with a toothpick and paint, f'r instance, and I do well with a fountain pen at a twisted angle, but give me a felt tip or pencil and I produce a scrawl that would make a doctor proud when I'm writing at speed. There's a reason I have a billion fonts on my computer and use computer-generated text when there's words on my ATC's--or I use a toothpick and paint.

Now, though, his hand is starting to slip; to take on those qualities that make you say, "It was an old person's handwriting." And I know it only seems sudden to me because I don't live at home any more and almost never see his penmanship. He doesn't have to sign my permission slips any more, or write notes to my boss about the dentist's appointment.

But at the same time it feels like it's happening overnight, like I woke up one morning in a strange body and my parents don't look like themselves any more--and who is that lady in the mirror!

And it's only unique because I'm the only me I have. Everyone wrassles with this sea change where you go to bed young and wake up in a middle-aged body with aches and pains that take longer to fade out than they did ten-fifteen years ago, and the grey in your hair isn't part of a Halloween disguise that you forgot to wash out from the party last night.


I'm doing more journaling than I ever did before. I remember being surprised that I'd kept this blog going for a year last fall. I tried to keep diaries at various times in school, but I never kept them for very long. I had the idea that a diray was about Big Important Matters, and well, my life wasn't Big; I wasn't a teen pop idol. And there's only so many times you can write, "Dear Diary: Got up. Went to school. Ate dinner. Went to bed." before a factual recounting of the day stops making sense.

Then I read Glen Campbell's Black Company series. One of the main characters in the first couple-three books is the physician, Croaker, who serves as the Annelist for the Company. The have always had an Annelist, from the days they were first commissioned, because if you don't keep track of what you've done, you can't keep track of who you are, especially if you're a wandering band of nomads. How do you keep a sense of identity and group cohesion when you pick up a person here, lose a man there, and don't even share a common language?

In some ways I wanted to be Croaker, I wanted to have a stack of journals I could point to and say, "I was here, I did these things, I said those things. I have lived a life." I began attempting to keep travel journals--first in a notebook I transferred to a computer file (lost in a crash that took over 300 pages of fiction with it. I had word salad, except, ironically, from a little writing exercise. They could retrive that bit of doggerel.) Then I found some nicely bound ones--but of course, spined bindings lack the flexibility to allow you to open them all the way up and write to the gutters. They work. They'll do for now.

But that's travelling. That's like trips to Mexico, and Italy, and the like. I'm glad to have them--they're my versions of stickers on the suitcase. I wanted something more like a day to day book.

Then it became clear that I needed to repack my head. I found Endsville, the place where all service terminates. And I'm not a good candidate for the talking cure.

I'd found a tool to bust through the crap and re-sort what was worth keeping and what had to go--but it involved a lot of writing. I mean a lot of writing--something like eight journals, two of which you'd hit daily and do three pages apiece in (SIX PAGES???!!!) and five of which you'd work sequentially, putting in an hour a week (or about six MORE pages) for a total of forty-eight pages a week, working to reframe your habitual mindscript and to dig out insights about behavior and attitude.

Forty-eight pages a week is a LOT--in two weeks, you'd have a slim novel. In a month, that's 200 pages. TWO NaNoWriMos, in other words. In the past, when I'd write, each and every word came in blood. The work was good, and needed little editing and polishing--but DAMN. I'd spend almost as long looking at the page, re-reading and chopping at what I'd done as I did putting words there to pick at.

But well, there I was. In Endsville, where you can take the easy way out--but that's awfully final.

So I grabbed eight journals, and got going. The morning ritual is pretty well set in stone, and the evening ritual is getting there. Next month, I'm going to make an equal point of devoting time to the weekly journal, and get that habit down.

I wonder what it will be like to travel now--I'll be carrying nearly as many journals as I will pairs of clean panties.

So now I'm reading Robin Hobb's Soldier's Son trilogy--or rather, the first book in the trilogy, Shaman's Crossing. Lo and behold, the eponymous soldier's son is gifted with a fine journal in which to record his exploits at his coming of age ceremony.

It's a big deal in that world--the first son inherits, the second son serves as a soldier, the third is for the priesthood, the fourth is an artist. The soldier sends home filled journals to record the military doings of the family, and the old and noble houses have stacks and stacks of volumes in the libraries.

So now it looks as if I'll get my wish--one travel journal completed, an ongoing diary on line, and a stack of closely-written journals about day and night and the past.

Monday, February 06, 2006

So this is February . . .

Today tastes like vanilla-flavored sand, mists on a busy city street, and bacon. Not very good bacon at that--half-done and chewy rather than crunchy. Send it back.

Li'l Brudder was in town to visit last week, so part of it's missing him and his particular take on the world. We were raised by the same parents in the same house, but in two very different families.

He left a book I had meant to purchase one of these days, but never got 'round to. Sometime the universe is like that. You address the sky, explaining that you need fruit. And what lands in your outstretched palm looks like a cross between a football and a pine cone, and smells like garlic, melon, and last week's gym socks.

"So what the hell is this? And what do I do with it??"

Comes the answer: "Durian fruit. Eat it."

And so you do, although you had apples in mind. Other times, you send your request out, and what you get back is a rusty skeleton key. So, grumbling about how this always happens to YOU, you pocket the key and keep on putting one foot in front of the other . . . until you happen upon a rusty gate with a huge old padlock . . . that the key fits into.

And when you unlock the gate, and swing it open, you come into an orchard of apples, where the windfalls clutter the ground and wasps buzz drowsily around, drunk on the fermented juices. The trees are old and untended, bowed under the sheer weight of their goods. So you pick a handful, and stuff a couple into your pockets for later.

Other times, you get exactly what you needed in exactly the form you anticipated.

The book? Getting Things Done, by David Allen. Li'l Bruddah insists that it's changed his life for the better. So I guess we'll see.

Friday, January 27, 2006

Sunny Day Blogger

Today (well, actually this last week) tastes like pistachios. Fiddly, hyperkinetic, and salty. Like tears, if tears were crunchy. Pale green and sad.

When you have people IRL who read your blog, it makes you censor your posts. Not necessarily dropping the various midnight athletics between you and your lover, but to cut down on the email and phone calls where folks ask if you want to talk about it, or offer advice and sympathy (as opposed to tea. I could get behind tea. Unsolicited advice, even with cream and sugar, does not go down well.)

So what happens when you're one of those who has to write their thoughts to see them fully expressed? Well, you write them in your blog . . . uhm, but that won't work when things suck (because sometimes things just SUCK. That's the way it is; all is dhukka.) So you write them somewhere else; strain your writing muscles, and go to bed with a metaphorical icepack to lie down for a bit until the spasms ease and you can get back up.

That's why you see me in my housecoat and fuzzy slippers.

Meanwhile, back in pollyannaworld, life proceeds apace. I have discovered decos (heaven help us, ANOTHER paper art) and am joining swaps like there's no tomorrow. Having lots of fun making lists of themes that turn me on, as one group does group themes only and the other is all artist's choice. So when life gets in the way and I can't commit to one more thing, or when I hear about something really cool that I missed out on, I make a note to myself and plan it as an artist's choice.

I'm currently in the midst of a cardstock pogram. I'm tired of flipping past the same sheets that I started with a year or so ago when I began ATC's. They're taking up space, dammit. And I don't care for maroon, gold, or orange--so I'm unlikely to turn them into pages for a deco, or endpapers for a book, or . . . well, just about anything, frankly. So I've been slapping down backgrounds ('cause I have more artpaper backgrounds than God, that's why) on the *feh* colors and sending them into the world as round robin ATC jams. I do a background, you put some art down and send it to Susie over yonder, who finishes it. Susie keeps one, sends two back to me, and I send you one. All players get an original card. Interested? Drop me a line.

I plan to spend some of this weekend doing abstract ATC's for the perpetual exchanges, and hopefully I can actually make a small dent in the stash of colorful scraps and bits. Then there's all the pages waiting to be bound into blank books at last. I'm trying to decide if I want to make more blank books with artpaper pages, which really can only be written on with big fat Sharpies. They go fast, 'cause you can't write small. (Ok, I can't write small regardless of the instrument. My hand is solidly grounded in uncil, not copperplate. Both my parents write a fine hand--but they had teachers for parents. Or maybe it skips a generation. Yeah, that's it. Blame it on genetics.)

And then with the rest of my copious and plentiful spare time, amybe I can get a couple of decos worked in and on the road. I haven't had them for a week yet, so I won't feel bad if they don't fly Monday, but if I let the idea congeal, well . . . congealed ideas are like cold scrambled eggs. Ick. And they will both sit on the kitchen table until I make myself go in there and get them cleared away. Best to strike while it's hot and fun.

Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Back Up on the Horse

Trying to get back in the saddle after the holidays, but right now I’m feeling like the dude. One boot caught in the stirrup, hopping along on the other foot as the horse meanders around to corral, and all the experienced bloggers sit on the fence, pearl snaps gleaming in the sun, spitting tobacco spit in the dust and laughing.

Back to the gym, off to the spa, doing it right this time because this year I’m done fooling around. I have plans to put together a deco with that theme. My own artsy New Year’s resolution—to learn how to play a new game. Maybe I’ll even pick up Photoshop skills—I have Elements 3.0—and a husband with an extensive gallery of virtual photos. Ripping up his Playboy collection for art’s sake is passive-aggressive, so what’s raiding his pixel stash? He can have the original photo in all its pristine glory; I’ll use the one where I’ve morphed the model with a snake’s skin and overlaid a transparent apple to make Eve one with the serpent. Or whatever.

Working with a self-help book I’ve been meaning to and meaning to and meaning to . . . as I said, this is the year I’m done fooling around. No, as I explained to Gareth last night, the journal I’m using for that is not for public consumption. You won’t be seeing excerpts from that anytime soon here.

To make up for the lack of news from Lake Woebegone, I have photos of a finished object. You may remember the Spirit of the Southwest Shawl I was working on in October—it’s done now. It wants dyeing into a soft yellow ochre, I think, but as I don’t have that order placed with Dharma Trading yet, you’ll just have to raise a glass of Riesling to peer through at these next photos.

I like it—I was scared it would be too small, but after blocking it out, it fits just right. Current focused project on the needles is one for Southwest Trading, a knitted zig-zag scarf, fraternal twin of the Sybaris Scarf.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

After the Epiphany

Adverb 2006 is now officially over. The folks have left. The table is empty. Gifties have been integrated with all the other stuff. The cats are yowling about their nip hangovers, clutching ice bags to their heads and voluntarily wearing sunglasses to protect their enormous bloodshot eyes.

Me, I’m shuttling back and forth between the computer and the paper studio, trying to get with the program and make some art.

I’m feeling stuck because I really haven’t done any “art for art’s sake” projects since Thanksgiving. I’ve been rushing to get Christmas exchange packages done, and send our December birthday goodie packs (and I need to get on the stick and do January’s pack, too.) I’ve been putting together decos (a new form for me–itty bitty books. I don’t think I’ve ever bound single signatures before. I don’t think I’ve ever built a book of fewer than 100 pages before.) Y’all know I haven’t been blogging since about Thanksgiving. (And no, see? I haven’t died.)

But ATC’s? Nothing, nothing, ninguna agua. I have cardstock. I have new toys. I have potential out the wahzoo.

And that’s part of the problem. When I began doing ATC’s (was it really just a year ago???) I was struck with all the cool things one could do to make art–and I just froze up like a rabbit in the headlights. I clipped a few pictures and slapped them on cards, and I shudder when I remember those first three. I’m surprised I traded them out, and if I checked the second swaps lists, they’d probably all be right there.

And now I’m feeling the same way–there’s stuff I now have the tools to do (heat gun, anyone? Embossing powder? Dryer sheets and Lumiere paint??) I want to change my numbering system to reflect the first, and the second, and the umpty-leventh card for the year. (Why? ‘Cos I think it would be a neat challenge to average a card a day. At least, in September that sounded like a neat challenge, a way to stretch myself. I remember one card I just called “Ten” because it was the tenth card I made that night, and it felt like my mind was a muscle being worked to failure. Now–now it sounds like going up the Matterhorn in a barrel, or over Niagra Falls on a pair of rollerblades.)

Fortunately, I signed up for an alphabet swap (I lurve me a good alphabet swap) and several deco projects, one of which is waiting in the studio for me to get off the pity pot, get my rear in gear, and go pop that art cherry for 2006.

Heck, after three cards, I’ll be loving it again.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006


Hokay--New Year's Resolution: In 2006 I will not blog between Thanksgiving and New Year's. Period. I'll post a reminder around Halloween. And I will not feel guilty about this.

There's just too much going on. I haven't had a free minute for a month, it seems. There's still stuff to do before Adverb--last minute finishy things, and I'm still getting over a wicked cold. And rather than post goofy test results each couple of days in order to have a post, I think it wiser just to close down for the holidays.

Not that this will be a long post, mind.

I was able to continue a New Year's tradition (three times, it's a tradition now) of finishing an item on New Year's Eve/Day. The Ostrich Plumes blanket is done!

You remember it from here. And now it's all growed up.

Awwww. It's 6 feet by 6.5 all stretched out for blocking. I like to do the big blankets since everyone else likes to knit for the toddlers. The next one I start will be a scrap blanket in garter stitch based on Fibonnaci triangles/golden spiral. As Mythic Grandmaw would say, faced with an engineering problem where you're constructing a 90 degree turn in a tube, "You're turning the heel on a bloody sock!"